Old Time Crime: Man wreaks havoc on Phoenix streets with stolen dump truck in 2002

Posted at 9:00 AM, Mar 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-12 16:03:29-04

A man who stole a dump truck and raced through Phoenix for 90 minutes in 2002 was caught by a citizen. 

It was about 4:30 a.m. on March 21st, 2002 and most Phoenicians were still asleep when Kenneth Ray Thomas, 54, stole a dump truck and smashed through eighty feet of chain link fence. 

Thomas sped through Phoenix streets and freeways during rush hour traffic, hitting some vehicles and nearly colliding with others, often driving on the wrong side of the road. 

The dump truck was traveling 20 mph over the speed limit

At times, the dump truck was traveling 20 miles per hour over the speed limit. 

After ninety minutes of endangering people on the city streets, Thomas ran a red light, near Central Avenue and Bethany Home Road, and struck a car containing two adults and four children. 

The collision caused the dump truck to flip over and strike a power pole. 

After the crash, Thomas tried to run away

Incidentally, the family in the car was watching the drama unfold on television, right before leaving their home. 

After the crash, Thomas tried to run away. However, a citizen, who also saw the television reports, ran after Thomas. Thomas swung a set of bolt cutters at the citizen, who swung back with a small bat, he was holding. 

As officers arrived, the citizen was holding Thomas in a headlock, punching him in the face. He continued to struggle as police got him into custody. 

Thomas was charged with 13 counts of theft, endangerment, and aggravated assault

Thomas was found to be a habitual drug user, who spent time in prison on three separate occasions. 

Thomas was charged with 13 counts of theft, endangerment, and aggravated assault. 

Later that year, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 16 and half years in prison. 

He is scheduled to be released from prison in April 2019.